Striving for Perfection – Part 5 of 10

Father Geiermann continues his discussion of striving for perfection by stating that a person who is determined to attain perfection will cultivate within himself a spirit of prayer. He writes: “By our daily prayers and frequentation of the sacraments we ordinarily do not submit ourselves sufficiently to the influence of grace to progress with the full liberty of children of God. For this a spirit of prayer is necessary. Three pious practices combine to form a spirit of prayer: (1) the habit of recollection, or living in the presence of God; (2) the habit of devotion, or inclining to God with childlike confidence; (3) the habit of ejaculatory prayer and interior communion with God.” Ejaculatory prayer “consists in fervently invoking the holy names of Jesus and Mary, or in making other pious aspirations that keep us united to God.” It is “an efficacious means of invoking the divine aid in time of temptation, and of cultivating the habit of prayer during the busy hours of the day.”

A person seeking perfection should do so with sincerity. He writes: “Sincerity is that attitude of our mind which, being free from ignorance or bias, enables us to grasp the excellence of the Christian ideal, and begets the desire and the resolution to attain it. . . . Sincerity enables us to view life from the true, eternal, immutable standpoint of almighty God. . . . It was this sincere apprehension of the relative value of temporal and eternal things that made St. Paul exclaim: ‘I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ’ (Phil 3:8).”

A person seeking perfection should have holy desires. “The desire of perfection is a longing to please God and to make the necessary sacrifices to do His holy will in all things. ‘Holy desires are the blessed wings,’ says St. Alphonsus, ‘on which the saints fly to the mountain of perfection.’ . . . Holy desires inspire us (1) with the courage to enter resolutely on the narrow way, (2) with the strength to surmount all obstacles, (3) with the fortitude to face the temptations and trials of life.” Father Geiermann adds: “It is specially useful, besides meditating on the eternal truths and the life of our blessed Saviour, to study the lives of those saints who at one time had been great sinners, or who lived and sanctified themselves in our own circumstances.”

Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).

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